By Dan Ambrose: ‘Iron’ Mike Tyson (50-6, 44 KOs) states that he’ll be fighting former IBF/WBA/WBC champion Lennix Lewis (41-2-1, 32 KOs) in an exhibition match in September.
This would be an old-timers version of a rematch between the two 50+-year-old heavyweights. 19 years ago, Lennox stopped an over-the-hill Tyson in the eighth round in June 2002 in Memphis, Tennessee.
Tyson looked terrible in that fight, running out of gas after the first two rounds, and getting picked apart by the taller 6’5″ Lewis.
When you compare the performance by Tyson against Lewis from how he looked while in his prime in the mid-1980s, it was like two different fighters.
The Tyson vs. Lewis fight generated a lot of money for both fighters, but it failed to live up to the expectations boxing fans had.
By that point in his career, Tyson was a shell of the fighter that he’d been 16 years earlier when he destroyed Trevor Berbick by a second-round knockout to capture the WBC heavyweight title in November 1986.
Tyson was only 20-years-old at the time he captured his first world title with his destruction of Berbick. However, by the time Tyson fought Lennox in 2002, he was an old 36.
The 54-year-old Tyson told TMZ, “I’m going to fight Lennox Lewis [in] September.”
Mike Tyson had been in discussions for an exhibition match against former two-division world champion Evander Holyfield for May 29th in Miami, Florida, but the negotiations fell apart over disagreements over money.
The 58-year-old Holyfield was hoping to get the fight with Tyson, as it would have made him a lot of green. But you can understand why there would be an issue getting that fight negotiated.
Tyson is the A-side, and Holyfield, despite his great accomplishments during his career, was never as popular as him. Holyfield’s star power was diminished by his decision to continue fighting long past his prime into his 40s, which led him to get beaten seven times after he fought Tyson.
Instead, Holyfield will be fighting 47-year-old former Tyson conqueror Kevin McBride on the undercard of Teofimo Lopez vs. George Kambosos Jr on June 5th on Triller pay-per-view in Miami.
It seems pretty obvious that Holyfield’s management picked McBride as his opponent to set up a fight that they hope to get against Tyson afterward.
We’ll have to see if Tyson chooses to bite on the Holyfield fight because he’s the A-side, and he’s not going to give him the same kind of money that he’ll be getting.
Tyson twice lost to Holyfield during his career, losing by an 11th round knockout in 1996, and then suffering a third-round disqualification defeat in their rematch in 1997.
That was the fight in which Tyson was disqualified after he bit a portion of Holyfield’s right ear off after he’d been accidentally suffered a cut from a head-butt.
Mike Tyson is so popular that he doesn’t need to fight Holyfield to make money. If the Holyfield exhibition match never takes place, it won’t matter. Tyson can fight lots of different guys.
Last November, Tyson returned to the ring for the first time in 15 years and fought 52-year-old Roy Jones Jr to an eight-round draw on Triller pay-per-view.
Although the fight made a boatload of money, many boxing fans were furious because Tyson and Jones appeared to be pulling their punches so they wouldn’t hurt each other.
Fans criticized the fight, saying it was like watching a choreographed movie fight rather than a real one. It appeared that Tyson wasn’t trying to hurt Jones, who has a history of suffering bad knockout losses.
Lennox Lewis retired in 2003 following his stoppage win over Vitali Klitschko.
Lewis was still fighting at a high level at that point in his career, but he’d made a lot of money from his fights against Tyson, Vitali, Hasim Rahman, and David Tuas, and he didn’t need to keep fighting.